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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hairdressers to Soothe Those Bad Hair Blues

The word for hairdresser in Russian is parikmakherskaya, or wig-maker. However, some Moscow salons are almost as behind the times as powdered wigs.

They still have those big, helmet-like hair dryers -- against a decor of bathroom tiles and brown linoleum. The stylists in such establishments frequently sport bouffant hairdos so stiff with hair spray that they would remain taut in a typhoon. No doubt these hairdos would do quite nicely as protective headgear in this season of melting stalactites. But what if you actually want a hairstyle that you can bear to look at in the mirror? And where can one go to feel a little pampered and self-indulgent?

There are quite a few well-established hairdressing and beauty salons that meet Paris or London standards, such as Tressals (tel. 231-8207), Yves Rocher (tel. 923-5885) and Jacques Dessange (tel. 200-5744), to name only a few of the better-known ones, as well as hotel salons including the Penta Renaissance hairdressing studio (tel. 971-6301) and the Radisson Slavjanskaya's Entourage hair salon (tel. 941-8157).

A new addition to the up-market, Western-style hairdressers and beauty salons is En Vogue in the Hotel National (14/1 Okhotny Ryad, tel 258-7179), run by a Swiss hairdresser. It is a luxurious little beauty and hairdressing salon and very private, as it can only accommodate a few customers at a time, so make an appointment. You can get pampered and have a general remont of your appearance for less than the airfare to Paris.

A haircut, shampoo and blow-dry costs $55, a color goes for between $60 (for short hair) and $80 (for long hair), a blow dry and set for between $25 (for short hair) and $50 (for long hair). The beauty salon, which uses Guerlain products, offers a $120 facial, including an analysis of the customer's skin, cleansing, exfoliation, a treatment mask, massage and makeup application. A manicure is $25, a half-leg wax $30.

Another possibility is Sergei Zverev, an award-winning Russian hairdresser who used to work for the Wella Dolores salon. He has set up his own salon in the Mezhdunarodnaya Hotel World Trade Center (12 Krasnopresnenskaya Nab., tel 253-2756). The salon is elegant, with black leather armchairs and magazines; the decor and the staff are pleasing to the eye. A shampoo, a cut and blow-dry costs $50, a color starts at $35, and highlights are $40. A French customer gave Sergei Zverev her vote of confidence: "I have finally found somebody in Moscow who can cut a good bob, with plenty of natural movement." Professional beauticians provide a full range of beauty services including a $40 leg wax, $20 eyelash-tints and a $20 manicure.

There are also more modest beauty centers that will provide a variety of hairdressing and beauty services at reasonable prices. If you are nervous about risking your head of hair in one of these establishments, you may want to test them out initially with a simple operation like a trim, or perhaps a hairstyle for an evening out (at the very least your hairdo might provide an interesting conversation piece). A more adventurous friend had a color done in her local parikmakherskaya and walked out sporting a greenish hue. Truly a bad hair day.

Some British customers of the parikmakherskaya at the Ukraine Hotel (2/1 Kutuzovsky Prospekt, tel. 243-2596) have been pleasantly surprised by the standard of the services and the final bill (not a common experience in Moscow). "I have never asked for anything really fancy, but I am more than happy with my 70,000-ruble ($15) cut, wash and blow-dry," said a well-groomed British expatriate. "My only complaint is that they do not always accept appointments, and on one occasion I had to wait for almost an hour." The salon's decor is a cut above most Russian beauty parlors, although the staff does not top the scale for cheeriness. Nor does it top the scale for cleanliness.

The Charodeika, or The Magician (17 Novy Arbat, tel 202-5271) hair and beauty salon was once, I am told, the place to go, in what must have been quite desperate times. There is nothing magical about this rather drab salon. However, a young Russian customer assures me that the stylists can faithfully reproduce haircuts from Western magazines. I saw a customer with a groovy '60s-style bob. The stylists seemed to know what they were doing, although they were using enough hair spray to put a hole in the ozone layer. A shampoo, cut, blow-dry and set starts at about $35. Highlights or color are about $30. The manicure is a bargain at $6.

Next door (19 Novy Arbat, tel 202-0372) is the Institute Krasoty or beauty institute, which offers beauty services ranging from relaxing $30 facials (using both Russian and imported cosmetics) to massage to full cosmetic surgery (everything from wart removal to various nips and tucks). A makeup session for a special evening out costs $40, and a hour-long massage runs $20.

A real find is the new beauty salon Stephania (23 Ulitsa Usiyevicha in the Red Cross Center, tel. 151-0493) with Western trained beauticians. The institute takes particular pride in its very relaxing facials and massages for both men and women, provided in a pleasantly fresh, flowery decor.

"Providing a relaxing treatment is important to relieve the stress of Moscow life," said Monique van't Westeinde, a Dutch expat who supervises the beauticians.

The beauticians work with Medex products, Dutch cosmetics especially for beauty salons. Their facials range from a $22.50, 30-minute treatment (cleansing, epilation, vapozone, application of a mask and a lotion) to a $62.50, "VIP" 90-minute option (with an additional deep clean, peeling, skin diagnosis and a nourishing treatment with creams and ampoules and makeup). They also offer a $30, 45-minute fruit acid treatment and various courses of acne treatments.

Other beauty services include a shoulder and back massage ($22.50 for 30 minutes), cellulite treatment with thermolifting ($25), eyelash and eyebrow tints ($15.50) and waxing ($22.50 for a half-leg wax). A deluxe half-day treatment ($110) includes coffee, tea and juices, the VIP facial treatment, a body treatment and use of the solarium. Gift certificates are available.